I’m having an affair with a poet. It started in the library – of course – over lunchtime. I was hungry and in a hurry and planned to get in and out as fast as possible. Never go to the library on an empty stomach.
I knew what I was looking for and it wasn’t him. Isn’t that always the way? I consulted the on-line card catalogue to find what I thought I needed. He loves that I found him through a database – so modern – but we met by accident because of the call number for the poet I sought, the one I thought I wanted. In fact the two poets were together which they shouldn’t have been but someone wasn’t paying attention to the numbers and relied on the alphabet and there they were, misaligned. My instinct was to stick with my initial choice but I wavered. He was slim and the other was, it turned out, not quite what I wanted or needed that hungry lunchtime. I held my new discovery tight and cracked his spine. The minute I inhaled him he hooked me like a coke dealer and I forgot the other poet completely. Fickle, you say? Maybe. Or maybe it was fate.
We left together and haven’t been apart since. We kayaked together yesterday and first thing this morning he spoke to me in bed. Eyes barely open, I reached for him, clutched him to my bare breasts, and sighed at my incredible luck.
Why do I love him? Because he is wise. Oh sure, he’s sloppy and smokes and never cleans up after himself and when I met him his fly was down and he had ashes all over his chest and his face looked like a field plowed by a drunk farmer and I don’t think he had had a bath since we met, but do you know what he said to me last night before I went to sleep? “Let your last thinks all be thanks”.* I think this should be a meme, don’t you? A few minutes later he reassured me
“Should dreams haunt you, heed them not,
for all, both sweet and horrid,
are jokes in dubious taste,
too jejune to have truck with.”*
His looks don’t really matter because there’s nothing sexier than a man who makes me laugh. How to resist this –
“Now you have licence to lie,
naked, curled like a shrimplet,
jacent in bed, and enjoy
its cosy micro-climate…
snug in the den of yourself….”*
I know what you’re thinking. There’s no future loving a man who’s dead. He’s not even a ghost. He never wanted to be one. Look what he said
“I can’t imagine anything
that I would less like to be
than a disincarnate Spirit,
unable to chew or sip
or make contact with surfaces
or breath the scents of summer
or comprehend speech and music
or gaze at what lies beyond.”**
The truth is, he’s just words; just a book in the library; a thin volume of poetry but I’ve fallen in love with him. I found his last book of poetry, Thank you, Fog published in 1974, in the library. He was old when he wrote these poems. Old, like me. The dedication says
“None of us are as young
as we were. So what?
Friendship never ages.”
To my new friend, W.H. Auden. I love you.
** from No, Plato, No